Uit: Landmarks In French Literature
„When the French nation gradually came into existence among the ruins of the Roman civilization in Gaul, a new language was at the same time slowly evolved. This language, in spite of the complex influences which went to the making of the nationality of France, was of a simple origin.
With a very few exceptions, every word in the French vocabulary comes straight from the Latin. The influence of the pre-Roman Celts is almost imperceptible; while the number of words introduced by the Frankish conquerors amounts to no more than a few hundreds. Thus the French tongue presents a curious contrast to that of England. With us, the Saxon invaders obliterated nearly every trace of the Roman occupation; but though their language triumphed at first, it was eventually affected in the profoundest way by Latin influences; and the result has been that English literature bears in all its phases the imprint of a double origin. French literature, on the other hand, is absolutely homogeneous.
How far this is an advantage or the reverse it would be difficult to say; but the important fact for the English reader to notice is that this great difference does exist between the French language and his
own. The complex origin of the English tongue has enabled English writers to obtain those effects of diversity, of contrast, of imaginative strangeness, which have played such a dominating part in our
literature. The genius of the French language, descended from its single Latin stock, has triumphed most in the contrary direction—in simplicity, in unity, in clarity, and in restraint.“
Lytton Strachey (1 maart 1880 – 21 januari 1932)
Portret door Dora Carrington, 1916
In the storm,
the color of sea
remains in dried fish
Vertaald door Nori Matsui
Is your body also
Sick and feverish
Glimpse of cherry blossoms
Around the pond I wander
And the night is gone.
Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (1 maart 1892 – 24 juli 1927)
Stummtage, Liebstes, wie immer
zu spät, der Zug schon fort, ich bleibe.
Ankunftszeiten Abfahrtszeiten, dazwischen
ein kurzes Gespräch mit der Klofrau. Sie
bietet mir Gummibärchen an, ich antworte
geschwätzig wie eine Elster. Nachhaltig
arbeitende Midlife-Crisis, dieser Hunger
wenn die Worte sich verkanten, nicht
Null, nicht Eins, Madam
what is your definition of soul. Surrende
Fliege in der rechten Gehirnhälfte, das
ist alles: Sentiment, mathematische
Rätsel, Lautsprecherdurchsagen eine Form
von Landgang. Einstieg, Umstieg, your ticket
please, wohin, ich habs vermerkt, Liebstes, wann
geht der verdammte Zug.
Sabina Lorenz (München, 1 maart 1967)
(for Elizabeth Bishop)
Nautilus Island’s hermit
heiress still lives through winter in her Spartan cottage;
her sheep still graze above the sea.
Her son’s a bishop. Her farmer is first selectman in our village;
she’s in her dotage.
the hierarchic privacy
of Queen Victoria’s century
she buys up all
the eyesores facing her shore,
and lets them fall.
The season’s ill–
we’ve lost our summer millionaire,
who seemed to leap from an L. L. Bean
catalogue. His nine-knot yawl
was auctioned off to lobstermen.
A red fox stain covers Blue Hill.
And now our fairy
decorator brightens his shop for fall;
his fishnet’s filled with orange cork,
orange, his cobbler’s bench and awl;
there is no money in his work,
he’d rather marry.
One dark night,
my Tudor Ford climbed the hill’s skull;
I watched for love-cars. Lights turned down,
they lay together, hull to hull,
where the graveyard shelves on the town….
My mind’s not right.
A car radio bleats,
“Love, O careless Love….” I hear
my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell,
as if my hand were at its throat…
I myself am hell;
only skunks, that search
in the moonlight for a bite to eat.
They march on their solves up Main Street:
white stripes, moonstruck eyes’ red fire
under the chalk-dry and spar spire
of the Trinitarian Church.
I stand on top
of our back steps and breathe the rich air–
a mother skunk with her column of kittens swills the garbage pail.
She jabs her wedge-head in a cup
of sour cream, drops her ostrich tail,
and will not scare.
Robert Lowell (1 maart 1917 – 12 September 1977)